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Newz Forum: FOOTBALL: Gibbs says key penalty call was wrong, sticks by Brunell

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posted on Nov, 2 2004 @ 05:02 PM
ASHBURN, Va. -- A review of the tape and a chance to soak in the angry chants of fans didn't change Joe Gibbs' mind one bit: He still thinks his Washington Redskins got robbed of an apparent touchdown pass, and he still thinks Mark Brunell should be his quarterback.

Gibbs was still rankled over an illegal motion call on James Thrash that negated a 43-yard touchdown pass to Clinton Portis in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 28-14 loss to Green Bay. The touchdown would have given the Redskins a one-point lead with 2:35 remaining.

"I thought we made the play to win the game. Really and truly we did make the play to win the game," Gibbs said Monday. "But it's just that up here you get very inconsistent stuff called, and that was an inconsistent call."

On the play, Thrash went in motion and turned to face his body forward an instant before the ball was snapped. Because a player can't be moving forward at the snap, the flag was thrown.

Gibbs said his team did the same maneuver three other times in the game without being flagged, and that he will be sending tapes of those plays to the league office for an explanation. He disagreed with the assertion that his offense had been getting away with the violation and had finally been caught.

"There was nothing wrong with what we did. ... We've been doing that all year, our entire life, that's what we do. We motion across and we set and we pick up a safety blitz," Gibbs said.

Gibbs said he'll move on from the matter and start preparing for Sunday's game at Detroit.

"I will say this," he added. "You're going to play a lot of close games, and things like that make a huge difference."

Gibbs might find it harder to put aside the growing calls for him to end his loyalty to Brunell and give Patrick Ramsey a chance to revive the struggling offense. Fans were booing Brunell and chanting Ramsey's name Sunday, daring to challenge the judgment of their beloved Hall of Fame coach.

"They care about it. They're emotional," Gibbs said. "I felt very comfortable with what was going on as far as Mark's play. Had I made that change in the first half, then we would've missed those plays in the second half that really should've given us the win. He made some great plays down the stretch."

That assessment seems awfully rosy. Brunell had a few nice medium-range throws while rolling out, but he was wildly high when trying to hit open receivers over the middle. After the Portis touchdown was called back, Brunell threw an interception on the next play that essentially iced the game for the Packers.

The scoring drives against Green Bay, both set up by interceptions, were just 24 and 17 yards. Brunell didn't complete a pass longer than 23 yards. If the touchdown pass to Portis had counted, it would have been only the third completion all season of more than 40 yards for Brunell.

Brunell is now scraping the bottom of the statistical barrel, looking like a shadow of the quarterback who was such a catalyst for Jacksonville for so many years. His 52.4 completion percentage is last in the league, and his 5.33 yards per attempt is next-to-last. His quarterback rating on third downs is 38.0, and the team converted just one of 11 third downs against the Packers.

The Redskins are averaging 14 points per game, better only than Miami going into the Dolphins' Monday night game against the New York Jets.

Even while endorsing Brunell, Gibbs took an unintentional swipe at the quarterback's long-range passing ability when he said, "What's hurt us is we haven't had the ability to get in the end zone from a long ways out."

The season is fading fast for the Redskins (2-5), who are already five games out of first place in the NFC East. Kick returner Chad Morton and safety Andre Lott were lost for the season with injuries against the Packers, and linebacker LaVar Arrington could miss another month with a knee injury.

The defense continues to shine, but Gibbs has reached a point where he has to dispute an official's call to make the case that his offense is respectable.

"I think now everybody right now is frustrated, certainly I am," Gibbs said. "We've got to find a way to work our way through this."



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